Category Archives: Business

Business Related Posts

Anywhere Sim on ALL 3 networks at once inc. o2, Vodafone and EE

Anywhere Sim Logo

Anywhere Sim Logo

Some years ago when  virtual networks appeared they piggy backed on the more established networks. The original I believe were Virgin Mobile which operated on One2One (None2One, the odds of getting a signal :P) then T-Mobile now part of EE, and Genie operated on BT Cellnet (now O2).

Anywhere Sim (Available from Argos) is a new kid in town who wants to end poor signal issues in the UK. The SIM Cards break new ground because they automatically check all 3 UK Networks (O2, Vodafone and EE) to see which has the strongest signal, then it will route your calls, text and data via that network. There currently isn’t support for 4g but 3g is available, they do claim LTE/4g is coming in the future.

Support for the Three Network is due on the 10th August 2016, and monthly plans soon after. I suspect with Three on-board that the high speed data will come soon after.

Its interesting that this appears to be possible due to EU Roaming agreements. Basically behind this is Manx Telecom who are based on the Isle of Man, but it has a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) agreement with o2 which is a UK operator. This means they give you an o2 phone number, but you are a Manx TC customer. As a MT customer you are effectively “roaming” in the UK, so much like roaming in Europe you can move from network to network.

Anywhere Telecom is strictly pay-as-you-go for now, but much like other networks it has various plans, well 3 plans at least. These are Home, UK and EU, each has slightly different prices, surprisingly these prices aren’t too different.

Price Plans

Home Plan – You are essentially and o2 customer, which is the “home network”, the twist is, you can still receive calls and texts through the other 2 networks but not make calls. Calls are 5p per minute, Texts are 5p per text, and data is 5p per megabyte.

UK Plan – You get to use all 3 networks to make and receive calls, text and use data across them anywhere in the UK. Calls are charged at 10p, texts at 5p and data at 10p per megabyte.

EU Plan – You get to roam all over Europe, connect to any network with a roaming agreement with o2 or Manx Telecom. The price of this, is calls in the EU are charged at 12p per minute.

It looks like this could be a killer deal if you live in a bad coverage area, and I can see this becoming all dominating network since coverage will be astounding. It just needs to get the monthly deals, cheap mobile phones, and the high speed data sorted.

It were the EU “interfering” with mobile roaming charges, which has made this possible, its an exciting time to be a mobile phone user.

Virtual Operators in the UK

On a side note, some other Mobile Virtual Network Operators are…

Asda Mobile uses EE
BT Mobile uses EE
Freedom Pop uses Three Mobile
iD Mobile uses Three Mobile
Giff Gaff uses o2 Telecom
Lebara uses Vodafone
LycaMobike uses o2 Telecom
TalkTalk uses Vodafone
Tesco uses o2 Telecom
Virgin uses EE

There are about 60+ such MVNO’s in the UK alone.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Synology Root Access Denied or Wrong Password

I’m a huge fan of Synology NAS units, not so much of the camera licenses but thats a minor niggle and for another time. I recently found my root password appeared to have been change but I didn’t remember changing it. I rarely login to the root account so it could have been altered a while ago.

RED ALERT!

Synology Root Password Change

Synology Root Password Change

Instantly I assumed I had been compromised, so I logged in as Admin via SSH using PuTTy and changed the root password. Next logged in to DSM (The Synology OS) as Admin user, checked the firewall, and went to Auto Block finding a few IP addresses on the list, but the last one dated back months. Entirely possible it had been that long since I logged in last as root. I checked for other “users” and various other security checks and all seemed ok.

Once the Red Alert has subsided and back to Amber Alert I started to look around on the net and found many comments to the effect “my root password has changed” and “my root account is blocked” and with some further digging found references to the last major DSM Update which were DSM 6.0.

DSM 6.0 Root Password Change

It seems something DSM 6.0 did, caused a reasonable amount of Synology owners root passwords to either change, become corrupt or expire. The solution were to simply change the root password to a new one or back to the old one (I would NEVER recommend the latter). I had inadvertently already done this with my first reaction, so had already fixed it on that particular server.

It dawned on that lots of users wouldn’t find this nugget of information or know how to do this since the reason you buy Synology is so you don’t have to get knee deep in linux but have all the power, so figured I’d blog it.

Exactly what you type into the prompt is in bold, and hit enter after each command.

  1. Using PuTTy enter your Servers IP (probably 192.168.0.2 or enter your servers hostname).
  2. Enter username as admin.
    (if you have changed your admin users name, change it here)
  3. Enter your admin password (same as used to access DSM).
  4. Enter the command sudo su.
    (this upgrades you to SuperUser)
  5. Enter admin password again when prompted.
  6. Enter the command synouser –setpw root ‘newpassword’.
    (use the single quotes around password)
  7. Enter exit, this returns you to normal user.
  8. Enter exit, this closes PuTTy.

You can now login as root user once again. I highly recommend using 2 different passwords for Admin and Root users.

Auto Block

Synology has a feature called “Auto Block” which automatically blocks IP addresses when they get the password wrong a number of times. You can find this under the Security Tab in the DSM. You may find your local network IP (192.168.0.*) or wherever you tried to access root from has been blocked, so its as well to check here and remove your IP remembering to save your changes.

Otherwise you find your connection by PuTTy being refused or randomly disconnected as happened on one of my units.

 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Protein Snacks

Protein Snacks Screen Shot

Protein Snacks Screen Shot

A project I’ve been working on (not finished) which is related to one of my own personal ‘struggle’ and goals. The details aren’t that important but in short. A recent iDXA / DEXA Scan at Derbyshire University revealed I had exactly 86.419kg / 13st 6lbs of lean muscle mass (no bones/fat/etc included). This helped me set my macro-nutrition / diet quite accurately on my quest to get BEEEEEFCAAAKED. Again cut short this means scan means I’m aiming at 45g* protein per 6 hours so as to distribute my intake through the day. It’s hard work finding good sources, with the right nutritional balance (skewed to protein).
*These numbers are based on my own research, activity levels, body composition and conclusions, so do your own research for your numbers, maybe in a future post I’ll go deeper in to it.

Flexible Protein

This brings me neatly to the issue of finding flexible methods of getting the protein in without massively blowing the other macro’s. Overloading carbs is easy as ummm cake, overloading the fat is almost as easy. I buy biltong, jerky, protein bars, RTD shakes, protein gels and all sorts of good snacks when getting a balanced meal isn’t possible. Which with a busy lifestyle is quite common, you know the drill, your hungry, you buy a bag of crisp or chocolate bar or something else, this site is about NOT going that way.

Just for an example…

Lion Bar 43g has 205kcal, 9g fat, 29g carbs, 2g protein, 80mg of sodium.
DynaBar 43g has 180kcal, 6.9g fat, 17g carbs, 14g protein, 50mg sodium.

The Protein Dynamix DynaBar has 1/3 less fat, sugar and sodium, 7 times more protein, this isn’t the best macro split, but given the very close taste, the Dyna is 100% a better option.

So there we have it, how my new project can and will help myself and others in the same boat.

 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Back Up and Contingency Plans

There have been a few stories in the media recently about various companies back up plans being entirely inadequate, the biggest being Marco Marsala. One such company is within the Domain Circle which is HEG which own various companies including Heart, Domain Monster and the company at the centre of the back up fiasco 123-reg. What these companies have in common is that they are some how “I.T. Professionals” in charge of YOUR websites and domains and should know better.

Back Up Failure

Borrowed from BrassBolts

This is a perfect example of why I invested quite heavily in my home back up processes, and I used to be a “hosting company” which used to be a Reseller of services by a company called DonHost way way way back. Back then with a 64kb ISDN Line, I used to download nightly back ups of all client sites, and when the back ups started taking over 12 hours, I moved to bi-nightly downloads and so on.

This were in addition to the hosting companies daily, weekly making around 31 days worth of back ups (7 days, and 4 weeklys = 11) and the weekly “off site” back up to a non accessible hosting account with another company which had its own back ups too.

Non-Accessible Back Up

This non-accessible back up, is technically against lots of hosting companies T&C these days but it weren’t back then. Many hosts include a clause that you can only use a certain percentage of your storage for “storage” that is files not linked publicly by a web page hosted within the account.

This is to limit peoples illegal file sharing, but affects legal use too.

I think this a croc, if I pay for storage, I don’t expect the company to tell me, I can’t keep legal items in there. Obviously illegal stuff and things which breach rules is one thing, but to say I can’t store private files and then want to double the charge to allow me to store private files is a croc, but that’s another issue.

Synology NAS Units

Anyway fast forward 15 or so years, and now I use Synology NAS Units with Hitachi Touro External Hard Drives which perform nightly, weekly functions for local back ups. Many Synology units have a USB port which can be mounted and included in back up scripts, I have a rugged USB Waterproof Pen in there with important files on. The USB drive is stored around 8ft away in a cupboard.

Once I can get fibre (NOT cable, I don’t trust Virgin after the Virgin Media cView issues), I will start to use cold storage like Amazons Glacier or similar, but stuck on ADSL the upload speed limits me, but with fibre there is no excuse not to use a service like this.

Not ideal or business purposes but Google Drive is 1tb for £60 per year, and Google Photos allow unlimited free hi resolution image storage. These should be used for non sensitive data, always worth using.

Hitachi Reliability

In addition to my own storage, I want to touch on hardware Hitachi, I were around when IBM Death Stars (which went on to become Hitachi Deskstars) were literally melting and vaporising themselves, but now Hitachi Reliability is Legendary. I make a point of buying the same drive from multiple sources or on various different days so they are the same drive but different batches. I were also a little irked when Western Digital took over Hitachi, I feared WD would take over Hitachi’s tech but seems WD bought Hitachi for the technology to improve their own.

When you are building your storage needs and requirements, you should research the brands you use. I am a fan of  2tb Samsung F4 Drives, and Hitachi Deskstar’s. I try to replace critical drives every 2 yrs, but I have some Samsung F4s in my media units which have 50,000+ hours of 24/7 running, and some Hitachi’s in similar conditions and they have 0 faults, and clean profiles.

Given how much effort I put in both my person and my business it astounds me that companies 10 to 1000s of times bigger than I were can make sure reckless actions.

Bottom line is, learn from their mistakes and take steps, losing everything is horrible!

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Now What Happens?

This page explains the process and actions taken once you’ve taken the decision to buy from Steven UK, its in 4 parts for your ease of reading.

I Like A Name… Now What ?

Finding a name you like is the easy part really, the hard part is negotiating a price, and moving forward. 85% of the domain names we hold have been purchased for far more than the standard registration fee. Some names have cost us thousands such as bomb.co.uk or even my own name steven.co.uk.

If you bare this in mind, and do a little research Domain Name Journal and Domain Prices list some previously sold domain prices, a quick search of Sedo will show some buy it now or sold domains to give you more information on the prices.

Once you have an idea what the domains could be worth, think about what they are worth to you. Now try and reconcile the two and formulate your maximum price.

I suggest starting at 40-60% of your maximum price, this lets the seller know both that you are serious, and want the name and allows you both to negotiate a few times and reach a mutually agreeable price.

I’ve Agreed A Price… Now What ?

Once a price is agreed, we remove the name from sale for 21 Days to allow time for the domain sale to complete and any slip ups to be corrected, this can be extended usually without a problem.

Next we will need some information form you. Name, Address, Email Address and Phone Number, this is to populate an invoice, which will be sent to this email address.

The Invoice will include payment options, which are paypal for smaller purchases and bacs for larger ones. We can do IBAN and Swift for international customers. It will include an itemised list of what you are purchasing, and not as the case may be, please ensure this is accurate.

I’ve Paid My Invoice… Now What ?

Once the funds have been verified as received, we will need 2 more pieces of information from you. We need to know what name to register the domain to, i.e. a business name or a personal name. Lastly we need to know which registrar you will be using, this is to complete the transfer of control to your chosen registrar. You can’t control the domain without this step and neither can we.

As of March 2016, Steven UK only recommends name.com and daily.co.uk as registrars for .uk domains.

Once we have the required information, the domain name will be transferred into your name, and tag will be changed to your chosen nominet tag.

The Transfer Has Completed… Now What ?

You will need to login to your chosen registrar account and choose “transfer” or “transfer in” or some similar wording. Enter the purchased domain name, and complete the free check out.

The domain name should now be under your control and the transaction is complete.

All Done…

We hope you have a smooth experience and any comments or suggestions are welcome, and we look forward to any future business.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Acquisition Costs v Sale Price

On an almost daily basis, I get email from potential customers looking to buy the domains I hold in my portfolio for pennies or close to standard registration fee, who are then shocked by the counter offers they receive. Domain Names are very much like Car Number plates, when you see your name on a car or number plate dealers site, do you expect it to cost the same as the first person who bought it? There is only 1, and possibly dozens or 100s of people who want that one name, so cash is the great decider.

I thought I’d talk a little bit about costs involved with drop catching, and the significant costs involved.

Nominet Membership
Firstly you need membership to Nominet, which costs £400+vat and then £100+vat per year, additionally you will need DAC membership is £25+vat per year on top again.

You require all of these to gain access to the basic systems which you will need to run a drop catching script.

Once you have your Nominet account, you have 3 main options…

Catching Software
Option 1: You can buy a script at around £10,000 for what is considered the best available to the public. There are cheaper ones often in slower high level languages, but when you’re talking in millisecond speeds, you need as fast a language as you can get. Lower level languages have a steeper learning curve, and thus cost more to have developed.

Option 2: Alternatively you can code your own script and spend months, years honing the intricacies of low level network programming, working out which language is faster for the specific job etc. Those who code their own software are often the fastest and most successful but have many years experience, generally they have been drop catching for 5, 10 or more years.

Additionally with Option 1 and 2, you will need Suitable Dedicated Server hosting. Any old server won’t be “fit for purpose”, you one which is close to the nominet servers, and in general you are looking at £300+ per month, I just checked a reliable provider and the yearly price was £3,651.60 inc basic support. If you are competent with Linux server management, you can save some money there. Server management can be £150-300 per month depending on who, where and how much “support” you need. The support is generally to install software, update software, patch security issues, fix faults, etc.

Option 3: Lastly, you can lease or rent a “catch system”, these can be as high as £1,000 a month for the top catchers, who are usually self coders (Option 2), but the average is around £400 per month for the best chance systems. As with script purchases, there are other options available, I’m working on averages and easy for the context of this post.

Drop Lists and Metrics
In addition to Option 1, 2 and 3, you will need access to “Drop Lists”, which are lists of domains due to drop on specific days and often you need “Metrics” which is information such as how many back links a domain has, what domain authority it has, things like that. Metrics are a whole other category, and not for this post.

Some basic drop lists are free, others are up to £15 per month. Metrics Data can be upto £4o per month but includes drop lists. Again cheaper limited options do exist, DCE.co.uk is once such example.

Drop Lists take some time to go through, and it takes a degree of skill to know what is of value, and what is trash. This again isn’t for this post.

Registration Fees
On top of this are the nominet registration costs, which are £5+.

Sales and Stock
Like all businesses, we have to hold stock, 100s or 1,000s or domain names, at £5ish per year. Sales are not regular, and we expect to sell around 5-10% of our stock per year, which means they need to sell at enough to cover our costs, pay our bills, buy new stock (which is from previous owners, auctions and catching) and pay wages on top.

In Summery
The bottom line is, it isn’t cheap to operate in this niche. I hope this goes some way to explain why drop caught domains are not sold for the price they are purchased for. Its not the domain you are paying for, its the time and costs taken to obtain, the skill learned to recognise it and the money invested up to this point.

Drop Catching IS a business, and as such it has overheads. Above are just a few such overheads. Remember this when you’re looking buy.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.